The Olympic games have been stunning, both in their breadth of coverage and the drama unfolding on the field of play. The secondary battle, that of the advertisers is also fascinating to watch, but far less dramatic. In Canada we have the benefit of accessing both our domestic coverage on CBC and also the US feed on NBC, the quality of advertising couldn't be more different.
Canadian brands associated with the Olympics have focused on spending millions of dollars to talk about the thousands of dollars they give starving athletes to fulfill their "dreams." That's you Rona, Royal Bank, Petro Canada and Visa. It's insincere and shameful. The one Olympic brand in Canada who's doing it right in GM, yep, old rusty is doing something right. They are just plowing ahead with vehicle advertising with a small Olympic tag on the end, they focus their sport dollars on funding teams directly and supporting grass roots programs nationally. Alpine skiing and Hockey (granted not summer sports) are great examples of sports they give better competition venues for 12-16 year old athletes, just what they need in order to become Olympians.
The advertising on NBC is polar opposite, it's heroic, iconic, and makes the athletes superstars. They are strong personable and well fed. It's about the athletes, their accomplishments and dedication to sport, not some brand pretending to be a benefactor. Maybe it's just part of a winning attitude American's tend to embody more openly that Canadians, and maybe that's why headlines in the US this week are about medals won, not when they will win their first.
Here's my favorite Olympic themed spots of the year, they aren't on NBC, but you got to love all things Phelps: